JeffCo approves new district lines - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Jefferson County approves new district lines

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Redistricting can be downright confusing. To further complicate it, a Jefferson County commissioner introduced a third plan Thursday morning. It added more fuel to an already contentious debate.

The redistricting process began with this map and a united commission then came the second one with finger pointing and accusations of Commissioner George Bowman stealing precincts. There was also a third plan that brought accusations of packing or putting the majority of predominately African American communities into two districts.

"You threw the bomb out there. This is not packing," said Commissioner Joe Knight to Bowman who backed the third plan.

To slow discussions even further, there was also confusion from voters about which district they'd move to and over why Commissioner Jimmie Stephen's district consumes a large portion of the county.

"Our areas are larger to encompass the same 131 thousand people," he explained/

The district lines had to be redrawn to evenly distribute the county's population. Commissioners Bowman and Sandra Little Brown needed more people. In the end, commissioners selected the plan most of the voters at the hearing wanted. It was the first one, which calls for the fewest changes.

"People came to me, voters- where do I vote, who do I vote for, I'm confused. I want the confusion gone, the controversy gone," said Susan Palmer, a resident.

Here are some of the changes... Midfield joins Fairfield in Bowman's district, as well as part of the Legion Field area. Part of Homewood moves to Brown's district. The remainder of Leeds joins Knight's district, and the Eastern part of Hoover is now in Stephens' district.

"We added up the precincts people wanted and it was right on target," said Commission President David Carrington.

"This puts things better. It was more compact," said Brown.

Even though voters seem happy, Bowman isn't. He wanted more time to deliberate on the third plan created by the ACLU.

"I'm totally disappointed. I think it was a rush to judgement," he said.

Bowman believes the commission's makeup will remain unchanged until the next redistricting with two Democrats and three Republicans.

This plan must be submitted to the Department of Justice for final review.

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